I’ve Still Never Been

Since writing this postcard I’ve been obsessively frequenting the market. Butternut squash, kale, brussels sprouts (I’m a lover not a hater), late season cape gooseberries (aka husk cherries aka ground cherries), tomatoes, and apples galore. I’m beginning to get my mojo back.


I Still Have Your Shirt

March 11 was such a productive day. I managed to purge a bunch of stuff I’d been holding onto forever, I baked, I watched videos and read news and blogs about the one year anniversary of the Great Tōhoku Quake, and I still managed to write a bunch of postcards. I wish all days were like this (minus the mourning a tragedy part).

I love the image on this one… was it taken with a tilt-shift lens? I’m not sure.

I’m introducing a new vocabulary word here: jackleg. This is Georgia slang for somebody who is acting like a greenhorn but is old enough or experienced enough to know better. If he ever writes me back we’ll learn another one, ’cause what he calls me is pretty funny.

Can We Go for Burmese?

Sigh. Another cut-off scan. For the record, the bottom line says, “listening to Gang Starr reminds me of you. Can’t wait to see you!!”

I chose this postcard for Leela because of her lifelong love of comics, and because our common past has threads of Hinduism woven through it (though neither of us is Hindu). She’s one of my very best friends ever, one of the few people I can cry on the phone to on the rare occasions that that’s necessary. We both share a love of travel (she was my partner in crime in Paris all those years ago), and a true love/obsession with food. Her family introduced me to real bagels when I was a kid, her dad was the first person I ever knew to use gold foil in cake decorating, and she inspired me to get over my fear of making my own salad dressings. Of course, she had to know that I’d finally invested in a kitchen scale. Most people just put up with my food talk; Leela actually cares.

As far as I can recall, Leela also deserves credit for introducing me to Burmese food, one of my favorite cuisines. Last time I was in San Francisco I had Burmese 3 or 4 times (at 3 different places) in one week. Happiness! When I moved to New York (land of everything available at all times… or so I thought), I was disappointed to discover that the city has a single Burmese spot, and it’s just not as good as SF’s offerings.

I just experienced a short but intense emotional roller coaster while writing this… I looked up Mandalay (my favorite SF Burmese) on Yelp, and saw that they didn’t open until 5:00 on Fridays, which would have meant that I couldn’t go while I was there. Thankfully I had the thought to check Mandalay’s site, which shows that they will in fact be open for lunch. I’ve been burned by Yelp in this way a couple of times before, I shouldn’t have gotten worked up about it until I double checked, but my heart rate jumped anyway. My heart loves Burmese.

Pale and Weak

Karen emailed me a few hours ago with the following instructions:


General rule for green tea is 4 grams (a little more than 1 tsp ) for 8 oz of water.

Use water at 175 degrees and steep for about 3 minutes- a little longer is okay.

If the flavor is light, increase the amount of tea.

Ok, I know the water shouldn’t be boiling for green tea, but I have no idea what the temperature actually was. Should I really be using a thermometer, or is there another way? I think they gave me tips on guessing water temperature over the holidays but as a forgetful coffee person, I’ve already lost it. Regardless, I’m guessing I didn’t use enough tea for the amount of water, so I will try again with these instructions in mind.

Karen also asked for my matcha muffin recipe. I’ve been using this one, tweaking it a little bit each time. I’ve never added the nuts. This makes 12 smaller muffins (in full sized tins) that are denser than you’d expect and a little bit chewy (not in a bad way). I’ve doubled the recipe every time since, and have not been able to replicate that chewy texture, so I think that it has something to do with how little batter is in each cup. Other tweaks I’ve tried:

  • I tried these using half whole wheat pastry flour and half unbleached all-purpose, and I found that the whole wheat flour competed with the matcha taste.
  • I tried these with a few (3 in a doubled recipe, I think) drops of lemon essential oil, and while they were delicious, the lemon also competed more with the green tea flavor than I’d like.
  • Most recently I’ve tried these with orange flower water (1.5 teaspoons in a doubled recipe)… these got rave reviews, but again the matcha was playing second fiddle.

Let’s be clear, I want the matcha to stand out as the most prominent flavor… I think this would be particularly important when using ceremonial grade matcha!! Everybody else was delighted with the more subtle matcha presence that came from a more complex flavor profile. My teacher (who has tried most of the variations) still misses that original dense/chewy texture, so I’m going to try the original recipe again next time, maybe with a quarter teaspoon of orange flower water.

For the record, I’m not using ceremonial grade matcha, I’m too broke and performing too many experiments. When I hone in on exactly the recipe that I want, I’ll try with a superior grade.